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Rage of Honor
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Sho and Tell Part 2: The Domination - brand new interview with star Sho Kosugi on Rage of Honor and the later stages of his film career
  • Interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani
  • "American Ninjas," an interview with Chris Poggiali
  • Sho Kosugi Trailer Gallery: Enter the Ninja (1981), Revenge of the Ninja (1983), Pray for Death (1985) and Rage of Honor (1987)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin

Rage of Honor

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Gordon Hessler
1987 | 98 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: March 15, 2016
Review Date: March 15, 2016

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SYNOPSIS

Following his star turns in '80s actioners Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, Sho Kosugi continued his domination of the US martial arts movie with 1987's Rage of Honor - helmed once again by Pray for Death director Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad). Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) used to live for his job - now, he lives only for revenge. When his partner is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and the rule book with it: arming himself with an array of deadly weaponry - including nunchucks, blades and ninja stars - he sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with the bad guys. Packing explosions, flying kicks and somersaults aplenty (as well as some truly logic-bending stunt sequences), Rage of Honor sees Kosugi at the top of his game as he battles his way from the streets of the urban jungle to the very literal jungles of South America.


PICTURE

Gordon Hesslerís Rage of Honor, starring Sho Kosugi, gets a surprise Blu-ray release, presenting the film in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc, marking the first time that I know of where the film has been released on home video in widescreen. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a 2K scan of the original negative.

Similar to my reaction to Arrowís Pray for Death I was incredibly surprised (in a good way) by what we get here. The film oddly opens in a ratio closer to maybe 2.20:1 and looks this way during the opening credits. After the credits it then changes to 1.85:1. Itís actually always looked this way on home video: I recall the VHS looking like this and the otherwise full-screen DVD released by MGM also looked this way. Because of this I was always under the impression the filmís ratio was actually closer to 2.35:1 rather than 1.85:1, but multiple sources do confirm this is the correct ratio.

Most of the limitations to the presentation come from the source. In general it holds up surprisingly well, and damage isnít altogether that bad: bits of debris and some scratches remain, but itís in otherwise excellent condition. The opening presents moments where the image seems to jitter a bit, but the old MGM DVD also does the same so I have to assume itís a source issue.

Detail is rather strong, though not overly so. Textures are a bit limited admittedly, and depth isnít all that impressive, but the transfer itself is very clean, retaining the filmís grain structure, which looks to have been nicely rendered here, though a bit thick. At the very least it remains looking natural. Colours look saturated well enough, though rarely pop, and black levels can be fairly deep, but I felt details could be crushed out during darker moments.

It could probably be better but Iím not going to complain: this film is near-forgotten, so the fact itís getting any sort of Blu-ray release is probably a miracle. But Iím happy to say that quite a bit of effort was put into this and it does look quite good in the end. Far better than the previous MGM DVD (and now in widescreen), we get a far more filmic looking presentation.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Arrow supplies a lossless PCM stereo surround track. The previous MGM DVD actually featured a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, though in essence it really worked primarily as a Dolby Surround track, with the surrounds working together.

As it stands it sounds about as good as I would expect it to. Dialogue can be a bit flat, while action scenes seem to be lacking that real kick, but the volume levels are still adequately handled and fidelity is decent. The filmís music sounds pretty good, though there is an odd effect in the opening: at one point, just as the opening credits come to an end, the oh-so-80ís opening track, which does spread to all of the speakers, suddenly collapses to the center speaker before fading out. After this, though, the action, and the filmís score, then spreads back out to the other speakers. Nothing like this occurs at any other point and the MGM DVD doesnít do this. Otherwise I didnít detect any difference in the mix between that DVD and this Blu-ray, though I would say the general quality is a bit sharper.

At the end of the day, though, itís an effective enough track, just lacking that punch I guess I would have hoped for from an action film.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Admittedly the film is a guilty pleasure of mine (though I shouldnít really say that as I donít feel at all guilty about liking it), from its odd Bond/Ninja mashing to some very questionable choices (that ďtribeĒ Kosugi runs across in the last act of the film) but it doesnít surprise me the film hasnít received too much love in the past. The fact MGM even bothered putting out on a pressed DVD (not a ďburn-on-demandĒ like other Kosugi titles such as Enter the Ninja and Pray for Death) for it way back in the day still surprises me (though it was basically featureless and in full-screen, so itís not like a lot of effort went into it). But here is something I never thought Iíd actually see: a full-on Blu-ray release from Arrow, and not only does it receive a rather decent transfer, it also actually presents some special features. What theÖ?

Though granted itís not a lavish special edition, but Arrow did go to the effort to add some new interviews, starting with part 2 of an interview with ďmartial artistĒ (not ďactorĒ as he points outóhe knows his limitations) Sho Kosugi. This 18-minute segment, which picks up from where the one on Arrowís Pray for Death left off, feature Kosugi talking about this film and then his career afterwards. Itís interesting hearing about the story behind this movie and why itís such an odd film: producers wanted to aim for a broader audience so they wanted to tone down the ninja aspect, which is why it feels more like a Bond film, at least in spirit. He talks about Gordon Hessler, who he considered a good friend (they even worked on another script that never went into production), working with the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, and being cast in Ninja Assassin. He also promises he will have a new film coming out, probably in 2017, and explains how he stays in shape. I loved both of these interviews (something he says he rarely does, so I guess Arrow et al are lucky here), which are both fun and energetic.

Thereís then a quick interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani, who, for 3-minutes, simply talks about how he came to be chosen to do the score (it looks like this is just a piece of another longer interview) and then we get a 7-minute interview with Chris Poggiali, who gives a quick overview of the American Ninja genre (which includes five American Ninja films) that came about in the 80s.

Like with their Pray for Death Blu-ray Arrow again includes a trailer gallery for some of Kosugiís films, including Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Pray for Death, and Rage of Honor. The booklet includes an essay on the film and the genre by Derek Botelho, and like Pray for Death, we get another excerpt from his book, Yin-Yang Code: The Drums of Tenkai-Bo. I believe this booklet will only be included in first printings but I think itís worth getting for it. And, as usual with Arrow releases, the reversible sleeve features the filmís original poster art.

So, yes, not a loaded special edition, but again Iím impressed Arrow even put in the effort of including anything, and luckily what we do get is actually pretty good.

5/10

CLOSING

Arrow puts together a rather loving edition for this film, which I figured was pretty much doomed to the bargain bins for all of eternity. They manage to give it a rather impressive looking presentation and have included some great features. Highly recommended for fans.




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